Security Experts:

2012 Olympic Games Targeted by Old PDF Exploit

Researchers at F-Secure have discovered a PDF being circulated online that is using the upcoming Olympic summer games in London as bait. The interesting thing is that the malicious PDF is targeting an exploit that is nearly 2 years old.

The PDF itself was discovered when F-Secure lab researchers were data mining their collection network for documents that drop executables. Given that the file was a sample collected as part of their ongoing operations, it could have originated from a malicious website, as an email attachment, or both.

It launches a legit document as part of the attack, which happens to be a copy of the London 2012 Olympic schedule that was initially published in 2010. Once the PDF is opened, it exploits CVE-2010-2883. This is what makes the targeted attack interesting; it uses a current event to target an older vulnerability.

Sadly, previously patched exploits are widely targeted because end users and system administrators do not maintain current software versions. In short, criminals use them because they work. In fact, data from Secunia shows that 79-percent of the vulnerabilities exploited in 2011 were targeting 3rd-party software.

Of the top ten most popular 3rd-party applications targeted by criminals, Secunia ranked Adobe’s Flash Player 4th, and Adobe Reader 8th. Patching Adobe software has become a standard level of security management, but it was still problematic for some organizations and end users. This is why Adobe recently started offering a silent update feature in the latest versions.

In regards to F-Secure’s findings, there are some takeaways.

“First, be wary of Olympic (and any other current event) themed e-mails that have attachments and/or links. Second, if you don't already have the current version of Adobe Reader, you really should go get it now,” the firm wrote in a blog post

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.